MALIBU (CBSLA) — Residents returning home to their homes in the Woolsey Fire burn area are finding severely damaged roads, bridges and power poles that are making it treacherous to drive.
Evacuees returning home to Agoura Hills, Calabasas and other areas with already windy canyon roads are being urged to drive with extra caution while crews repair highways and bridges, and utility companies replace power poles and lines.
The Woolsey Fire, which continues to burn more than a week later, is now 69 percent contained. The blaze has scorched 98,362 acres, destroyed 616 structures and damaged another 183. Thousands of people from Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Oak Park, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Maibu and Topanga Canyon were evacuated from the fire’s path, some of whom have not yet been allowed to return home.
But with most of those areas repopulating, residents are finding crumbling roads, impassable bridges and toppled power poles. About 300 homes are still without power, and Steven Conroy with SoCal Edison simply returning power to the burn areas is a huge undertaking.
“We’ve replaced 250 poles over the course of a few days,” Conroy said. “We have upwards of up to 900, maybe more, that we’ve identified that are gonna have to be replaced.”
There is no hard timeline on when power will be fully restored to homes in the burn area.
The Woolsey Fire burned so hot that the steel supports of some roads and bridges gave way.
One of those severely damaged bridges was along the famed Mulholland Highway, considered one of the most popular scenic drives in Southern California. The steel supports of the bridge between Troutdale and Waring drives simply gave way to the heat of the fire.
It was the same situation for another bridge in Old Agoura. LA County Public Works closed Chesebro Road between Driver Avenue and Balkins due to a bridge being damaged by the fire.
The slow rate of repopulation for certain areas has some residents questioning why they can’t return home yet, with so much progress made on the fire. The fire was so destructive, however, that LA County officials say some portions of Malibu and other nearby areas need to be completely rebuilt.
“Conditions of roads, open land for trees on the brink of falling, rock slide hazards, unsafe standing, damaged or destroyed structures, hazardous materials, and the overall condition of the basic functional infrastructure and utility services are just some of the many considerations. Businesses must be able to provide basic services before they can reopen,” LA County officials said in a news release. “We understand how being held back from returning home can be frustrating to displaced residents who are anxious to see the state of their houses and property.”